Introduction: This speech was delivered to the men of the Pi Kappa Alpha - ΔΧ on Sunday Evening, December 11th, 2006. Its objective was to promote academic excellence among the membership by sharing 10 "Wish I would have known that" bits of experience.
1. Knowledge is a commodity. What you know has nothing to do with what your worth. Value is determined by what you can do and how fast you deliver quality. Master a few valuable skills and learn to sell them effectively.
2. School tests your ability to learn. What and how is damn near irrelevant. What matters most is that you find an effective way to quickly master difficult concepts. You will do this literally thousands of time in your professional life.
3. GPA is a statement of character. "A" students get "A's" because they want them more than "B" students, and a hell of a lot more than "C" students. Employers - get it. Grad schools - get it. "C" Students - don't.
4. Resumes open doors. Top tier statistics and leadership roles increase your chances of getting an interview. They don't guarantee squat. Winning candidates close deals by a combination of what they have done and who they are.
5. Learn with passion. Take great care to ensure that your studies carefully align with your internal source of energy. You have only one person to blame if college doesn't magically land you in a dream job - or start-up, or grad school, or...
6. Know your strengths. Your value is based upon your unique ability to do a few things exceptionally well. Don't waste time trying to make your weaknesses great. Instead, focus your energies on the making your strengths exceptional, i.e., top 1% internationally.
7. Relationships are everything. What you know might get you a job. Who you know will get you promoted. Spend an inordinate amount of time building new relationships and boosting old ones. Help people who can't directly help you. Don't keep score, but play for keeps.
8. Learn to see. Your vision of the world shapes your ability to succeed within it. Learning to see a little about a lot allows you to make new connections. Learning a lot about a little is the basis of value. Set out to master this balance.
9. Climb tall trees. The forty years after college are a non-stop climb towards retirement. Pick a tree that offers an infinite view and climb like mad. This will ensure that ambition is the only limiting factor in your success.
10. Know what to do. Leaders show up to lead. They learn where they need to go and they don't waste anytime getting there. Demonstrate a willingness to make progress and others will follow.
~Dedicated to 104 South 39th Street.